ASHGABAT (Reuter)–Turkmen’stan threatened Monday to take tougher measures to control areas of the Caspian Sea it claims as its territorial waters but where Azerbaijan and foreign oil firms are already preparing to pump oil ashore.
"Recent negative developmen’s could force Ashgabat to move toward strengthening frontier controls around all the aforementioned fields," a senior official at Turkmen’stan’s foreign ministry told Reuters. He gave no details of what it might do to tighten control over the oilfields.
The official–who declined to be named–said Turkmen’stan had made its position known to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last week.
Earlier this month–Turkmen’stan demanded that a $1 billion agreement between Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR and Russia’s Rosneft and LUKoil companies to develop the Kyapaz field be annulled–arguing the field belongs to Turkmen’stan.
Turkmen’stan also claims a field named Azeri and part of the Chirag field–now under development by the a multinational consortium headed by British Petroleum Co. and Norway’s Statoil.
The Caspian’s legal status is the subject of intense diplomatic wrangling between the five states around its shores and oil majors who want to cash in on the reserves.
The dispute hinges on whether–under international law–the Caspian is a sea or a lake. On that depends how national frontiers are drawn.